Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Family Practice and BioMed Central.

Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Long term benzodiazepine use for insomnia in patients over the age of 60: discordance of patient and physician perceptions

Leevin Mah1 and Ross EG Upshur2*

Author Affiliations

1 Family Medicine Residency Program, Department of Family and Community Medicine Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

2 Primary Care Research Unit, Department of Family and Community Medicine Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre, University of Toronto 2075 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, M4N 3M5, Canada

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Family Practice 2002, 3:9  doi:10.1186/1471-2296-3-9

Published: 8 May 2002

Abstract

Background

The aim of this study was to determine and compare patients' and physicians' perceptions of benefits and risks of long term benzodiazepine use for insomnia in the elderly.

Methods

A cross-sectional study (written survey) was conducted in an academic primary care group practice in Toronto, Canada. The participants were 93 patients over 60 years of age using a benzodiazepine for insomnia and 25 physicians comprising sleep specialists, family physicians, and family medicine residents. The main outcome measure was perception of benefit and risk scores calculated from the mean of responses (on a Likert scale of 1 to 5) to various items on the survey.

Results

The mean perception of benefit score was significantly higher in patients than physicians (3.85 vs. 2.84, p < 0.001, 95% CI 0.69, 1.32). The mean perception of risk score was significantly lower in patients than physicians (2.21 vs. 3.63, p < 0.001, 95% CI 1.07, 1.77).

Conclusions

There is a significant discordance between older patients and their physicians regarding the perceptions of benefits and risks of using benzodiazepines for insomnia on a long term basis. The challenge is to openly discuss these perceptions in the context of the available evidence to make collaborative and informed decisions.